The climate of Dubai, equal parts desert and tropical, can be punishing for the average person. During the summer months, temperatures regularly reach as high as 106 degrees Fahrenheit, while colder temperatures seldom dip below freezing—certainly not cold enough to go skiing. While there’s no “winter” to be found in the desert, there is a winter wonderland, complete with skiing and penguins, to be found inside Ski Dubai, the first indoor ski resort in the Middle East.
There are other activities throughout the world that give visitors the chance to experience the built environment in unusual and fun ways. From touring an underwater sculpture park in Grenada to surfing in Boise, Idaho, here are five activities that are set in some rather unlikely locations around the world.
Skiing in Dubai
As if being one of the largest malls in the world wasn’t enough, the Mall of the Emirates now holds the distinction of being the first of its kind in the Middle East to have an indoor winter wonderland. Measuring an estimated 22,500 square meters, Ski Dubai is covered with real snow year-round and features a ski mountain with five runs for skiers and snowboarders of any skill set. There are also bobsled runs, a “snow cavern” and hills that guests can toboggan down. Guests who don’t enjoy winter sports can enjoy other events at the ski park, including live penguin shows.
But soon Ski Dubai won’t be the only winter attraction in town. The developers behind the Meydan One project plan to include a ski slope that would measure an impressive 3,937 feet. If realized, the attraction would exceed the length of Germany’s AlpinCenter slope, which, at a length of 2,100-feet, is currently the longest in the world.
Hanging Ten in Boise, Idaho
Surfers in Boise, Idaho, don’t need access to an ocean to ride the waves. At Boise River Park, an urban whitewater park, surfers can ride waves generated by waveshapers installed inside the river that create a type of “surfing treadmill.” While the waves may seem fast, the surfers barely travel more than a few yards. The experience is “like riding a cloud,” said surfer Tashi Miller in an interview with the Idaho Statesman. And while Boise has yet to become the premier river surfing destination in the world—the Elsbach River in Munich, Germany, currently holds that title—it’s already one of the most unusual surfing spots in the United States.
Touring a Sculpture Garden Under the Sea
Down in the Caribbean Sea, just off the coast of Grenada, is a sculpture garden that can only be toured with the aid of a snorkel and scuba tank. Featuring over 75 sculptures along 800 square meters, the Grenada Underwater Sculpture Park is the first of its kind in the world. Artists like Troy Lewis, the sculptor of the Amerindian Petroglyphs, and Jason deCaires Taylor, the artist behind The Lost Correspondent and Grace Reef, have works featured in the underwater garden. Taylor’s Vicissitudes sculpture features a circle of life-sized children holding hands, a symbol of “the adaptability of children in any environment as the sea embraces them and the children become part of their new environment,” notes to the Underwater Sculpture Garden’s website.
Spending the Night at the Coldest Hotel in North America
The Hotel de Glace in Canada’s Quebec City may be the region’s coolest—literally. The hotel is fashioned entirely out of snow and ice, and boasts a chapel, outdoor saunas (for the occasional warm-up) and an bar that serves drinks in glasses made entirely out of ice. The hotel’s beds are also made of a solid ice, but not to worry, real mattresses and arctic sleeping bags keep guests warm at night. Thick snow walls help insulate the hotel and the indoor climate seldom dips below 23 degrees Fahrenheit. It takes workers over a month to fabricate the hotel, which is open from January through March each year.
Looking for an an even colder hotel to stay in? Try the Luvattumaa ice hotel near Levi, Finland, which holds the distinction of being one of the coldest in the world.
Golf Near an Active Volcano in Indonesia
The Merapi Golf Yogyakarta has all the trappings of a great a course: 18 challenging holes, beautiful vistas of the Indian Ocean and close proximity to Mount Merapi, an active stratovolcano. Though the last major eruption took place in 2010, golfers will nevertheless be thrilled at the opportunity to play the par 72 course.